Department extends mercury drop off campaign in Southeast Missouri

Ice Storm Recovery Prompts Extension

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-057 For Immediate Release: March 11, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, -- Due to the recent ice storm, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is extending its mercury collection program in southeast Missouri through March 13.

In an effort to help Missourians properly dispose of items containing mercury, the Department, working with fire departments and county health offices throughout the region, will continue to provide collection stations so that citizens may drop off unwanted mercury through March 13. The campaign, originally scheduled to conclude Feb. 28, was extended because of the ice storm that struck in late January.

Any private citizen or non-profit agency can leave mercury-containing items, like thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, thermostats or switches, at any of these collection sites.

Mercury, a shiny, silver-gray liquid metal, is a hazardous material and exposure to mercury is toxic to the nervous system, lungs, and kidneys by routes of inhalation, ingestion, and absorption.  Exposure typically results when mercury containing items break in the household, releasing mercury and contaminating the living space.  Proper cleanup of the spilled area requires removing and discarding contaminated household items, ventilation of the home, and air monitoring to ensure the cleanup was successful -- a costly and time consuming process for both the Department and the homeowner. 

Anyone seeking to dispose of items at these sites should first secure the item in two zip top bags and then place it in a sealed container (such as a coffee can or plastic margarine tub). The extra packaging prevents a mercury release if the item breaks while being transported.

The list of drop off sites in southeast Missouri is included below. Please call the site before taking mercury instruments for disposal, and never leave items if the facility is closed.

The Department of Natural Resources will collect the dropped off items at the end of the program and transport them to Jefferson City. They will be picked up by a state contractor, who will recycle what can be recycled and properly dispose of the rest.

Anyone who is uncomfortable with transporting mercury instruments, or who has large quantities of mercury, may contact the Department's Environmental Emergency Response spill line at 573-634-2436 to arrange to have items picked up.

The program does not include compact fluorescent bulbs. A fact sheet detailing the proper disposal of CFLs is available on the Department's website: http://www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2273.pdf.

A total of 24 facilities in southeast Missouri are participating in the mercury drop off program. Unless otherwise noted, their office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

The statewide list of drop off sites is available online.

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